Pitt Wins Green Workplace Challenge In University Sector

Issue Date: 
July 14, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh placed first in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s 2013-14 Green Workplace Challenge in the university category.

The challenge was a yearlong competition among businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, and universities to track and measure improvements in managing resources involving energy, water, waste, and transportation. More than 100 organizations participated in the contest, which ran from June 2013 through May 31, 2014. The winners were announced during a June 25 ceremony held at Chatham University.

“The University of Pittsburgh is honored to be recognized by the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge for our sustainability initiatives,” said Laura Zullo, senior manager, Energy Initiatives at Pitt. “We are proud of the great strides the University has made to further sustainability across our campus. From the built environment, to education and research, to campus operations and student involvement, all members of the University community play important roles in fostering sustainability on campus.”

The challenge provided a list of specific sustainability activities and measures that organizations could perform for challenge points. Participants were also able to customize some sustainability initiatives to obtain credit for activities not included on the list.

Pitt earned 322 points in the competition; runners-up Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne university achieved 146 points and 107 points, respectively.

Overall, challenge participants completed a total of 1,668 sustainability actions, helping to create a more sustainable southwestern Pennsylvania.

Zullo said Pitt completed about 60 challenge activities. But the University’s primary push for the challenge was to document energy savings by entering baseline and current energy data for buildings into the Energy Star Portfolio Manager software. Pitt submitted energy savings for five buildings: the Charles L. Cost Sports Center, Fitzgerald Fieldhouse, William Pitt Union, Thackeray Hall, and the Cathedral of Learning.

Overall, the five buildings achieved an electricity reduction of approximately 1.9 million kilowatt hours between the baseline (June 2012-May 2013) and program year (June 2013-May 2014).

Other Pitt sustainability measures included the existence of several LEED certified buildings, providing incentives for alternative transportation, hosting an eco-competition (RecycleMania and Panther Power Down Showdown), installing energy-efficient windows, having green roofs, installing lighting upgrades, promoting recycling, providing tray-free dining facilities, limiting printing, sponsoring a community environmental event or waste/cleanup (Pitt Make a Difference Day and United Way Day of Caring, among others), participating in a car-sharing program (Zipcar), reusing or donating surplus building materials or office furniture, and making Pitt’s green achievements public (www.sustainable.pitt.edu).

Zullo also credited two Swanson School of Engineering students, Troy Salvatore and Jack Rossi, for documenting Pitt’s activities.

Pitt’s Gregory Reed was the keynote speaker at the award ceremony, and he discussed innovative developments that will allow electric power to be used more efficiently in the near future. Reed is director of Pitt’s Electric Power Initiative and the Electric Power Systems Laboratory and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering. 

“The efforts of the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge participants inspire many of the initiatives that lead to new technology developments, that improve upon energy efficiency, and drive the creation of new markets,” Reed said. “Direct-current technology is one great example. The Pittsburgh region is taking a leadership role nationally in direct-current innovation and demonstrations.”